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Why Fixed Term Contracts Are B*******

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Mmm. Beautiful sliced strawberries.

If you don’t think fixed term contracts are nonsense, then say so! The comments box is there for a reason.

Fixed term contracts are b*******.

There, I said it.

Swore on the radio, or television, or at work, or whatever. Cardinal sin. Anyway – fixed term contracts.

Like I said.


Three Reasons Why In A Very Short List

Here are three reasons why in a very short list.

  • One. Because they prey on the weak.
  • Two. Because they open up manufacturers to sabotage.
  • Three. Because they get no commitment from agencies.

And here are three reasons why in a little more detail.

One. Because they prey on the weak.

A fixed term contract is like a permanent job, except it is for a fixed term. Why do we have permanent jobs? Why do we work permanently?


So we can pay stuff off. Our house. Our car. Our kids stuff. No matter how old they are. We have commitments.

Do these things stop when we stop working?


Who leaves the security of a permanent job for a fixed term contract?


Who applies for a fixed term contract when out of work?

People who don’t expect to get a perm job any time soon.

They prey on the weak and they make career interims look bad.

Two. Because they open up manufacturers to sabotage.

So you’ve got your pro rata ‘interim’ in. Instead of paying £450 a day for a good interim technical manager, you’re paying £45k a year and have somehow motivated some poor, starving recruiter to find you someone.


Plain sailing, right?


Your ‘interim’ isn’t doing as well as you’d hoped. Not a surprise, but you can cope – you’re saving money, and the perm guy will be back in four months. Then things get a little worse. Then a little more worse.

Then, two weeks before a PIU, BRC or any other kind of audit, he lets you know he’s got a perm job. Needs to start next Monday.

Or worse, he just doesn’t turn up one day. Because he’s started a permanent job.

You risk losing the business and sabotaging your factory.

Is it the fault of the ‘interim’?


He has a house to pay for, kids to feed, and a wife to clothe. And you’re paying him a wage that you’d pay to someone who had continuous work.

Don’t risk your factory, your customers and bottom line by trying for pro-rata. It’s a false economy.

Three. They get no commitment from recruiters.

Do recruiters prioritise jobs?

Yes. Yes, of course we do.

There are two main criteria. One – how hard is it to fill? Two – how much does it pay?

If you insist on working with fifteen agencies at the same time (hard to fill) and paying a tiny percentage then you’ll be bottom of the pile.

If you pay us handsomely and work with us exclusively, we’ll bend the fabric of the universe to create more time to fill your role.

So how hard is it to fill a pro rata job?

Very hard – nobody wants them.

How well do pro rata jobs pay us?

Literally, a fraction of a normal role, and for more work.

The Solution

Get a real interim. Call us, or if you must someone else who specialises in career interims.

There, a one line solution. I can even do you one in eleven digits:

07837 364712


9 responses »

  1. Interesting blog!!
    As a Contingent Contract / Interim and Permanent recruiter and with a reasonable amount of experience recruiting both types of animal I would agree with most of what you’re saying. However, I believe that Career Interims have their place in the recruitment food chain as do Permanent candidates as do the candidates who take Fixed term contracts and the Client’s who ask for them. In the “current economic climate” (an all too often used phrase) fixed term contracts do have their place.
    It has been well documented that growth in the Manufacturing sector is in decline and that companies are struggling to get capital released for recruitment, or anything else for that matter! It is often the case that Clients go out for Fixed Term Contracts not because they do not want to spend the money on a good Interim, but because they cannot get budget approved for Permanent headcount. In this situation they need to offer a pro rata salary for a period of time until they can get the permanent headcount approved. And of course, we all know that any self respecting Interim would not want to take a role in a company that a permanent or fixed term contract candidate could do, and fall foul of IR35….
    If an experienced interim is required for an essential project which demands niche skills then at the clients’ own peril do they try to scrimp on fees, this I do agree with, but I also know a lot of very good contractors who after being made redundant, took a fixed term contract then went on to be exceptional Interims / Contractors.
    I work with a couple of clients who pay full permanent fees for fixed term contracts, in those instances they are prioritised the same as other permanent work. I have also recruited permanent and contact candidates for them. There are also a fair amount of good candidates who are being made redundant or have been made redundant who would be more than happy to take a fixed term contract to keep the pennies rolling in.
    As a sweeping generalisation, are all fixed term contracts b******? No, they have a place, as do most things when it comes down to it!

    • Dave C,

      Good to hear from you!

      Manufacturing has taken a hit (but according to a gorgeous piece of Greencore HR propaganda I saw yesterday, food manufacturing has hit 3% growth despite manufacturing in general declining by around 15% – a story for another day, though!), but an unwillingness to invest in key positions is daft no matter what the weather outside.

      I’m not saying it’s the fault of the line manager – if they can’t get sign off, then it’s the senior management (or the line manager for not putting their views across properly). To be fair, taking a balanced view on an individual situation and saying ‘yes, we can cope without person x, though it is a risk and we’ve considered it’ is different to trying to take what is on the surface the cheapest possible option, with no consideration of what that means for the business in the medium to long term.

      Is everyone on a fixed term contract rubbish? Definitely not – as you say, some are fantastic. But if they haven’t taken the decision to become career interims, you’re still leaving your business open to damage if and when the fixed term contractor leaves for a permanent contract (yes, temp to perm is a different kettle of fish).

      If you can find a catchy permutation of “every ill-thought through fixed term contract in a business critical position, particularly within the food industry” that ISN’T a glorious sweeping statement, then go for you life! : )

      Thanks for taking the time to comment,


  2. Fantastic, plain speaking with obvious clarity and purpose of message!

    • Dave,

      Thanks for the comment! It’s good to know other people agree – over a hundred people have read this in the first five hours of it being up, and we’re on one agree and one disagree so far.

      Feel free to pass it on to anyone you think would either agree, or vehemently disagree!

      Thanks again for taking the time,


  3. Couldn’t agree more. I know, I would say that wouldn’t I. I specialise in career Interims, mostly because they just “get it”

  4. Am I allowed to be cynical (as a twenty year interim?). Yes, of course there is a big difference between an interim manager and a fixed-term manager, but are you honestly saying that if your client said they would only consider a fixed-term interim, you would argue the point, and turn down the opportunity if they were not prepared to pay a “proper” interim rate? Principals have a habit of freezing to death in the current climate.
    Personally, I think that a lot of recruiters ask their interims if they will be prepared to do the job for much less than their expected rate. I don’t want to hear “if they are out of work then they are no good”. Times are tough, and some of us work 100% when we are employed, and only start marketing ourselves when we are out of work. And we are interim managers, not marketing gurus.
    Yes – a very good and thought-provoking blog – but, my word, how I hope there is substance behind it! If you really support quality interims to that extent…can I join up in LinkedIn please 😉

    • Paul,

      You are indeed allowed to be cynical – and you are also correct. We don’t like to lose business.

      So, what do I do if a client absolutely insists on using a fixed term contract?

      I’ll turn it down.

      Obviously, I’ll expound on the benefits of a career interim, in terms of return on investment, in terms of bringing the business forward and in terms of added value. But if they absolutely will not listen to reason – or if the decision lies outside of their hands, and for some reason I can’t speak to the budget holder – then I’ll turn it down.

      What I will do, however, is recommend that they speak to our perm team (who work with salaried employees). They might or might not have the resource available to work on a fixed term contract.

      If you’re still cynical, it happened last week. A European snack producer called me last week looking for an interim purchasing manager – except they weren’t. They were looking for someone on a fixed term contract, they just called it an interim. An interim wasn’t right for them (they’d done the turnaround and just needed a body to execute it, at a level you don’t find many interim managers).

      The perm team, unfortunately, were too busy to help with the requirement, so we had to let it go.

      The bottom line is – I’ve never asked a career interim to do a pro rata role, and I never will.

  5. ‘ere – I’m just embarking on my interim only contract career!

    I have a very good reason for not wanting a permanent job again.

    Ring me and I’ll tell you in eleven digits….


    You can put me on your book!

  6. Jeremy,

    I agree with you. I did my first interim role on the payroll mainly because I hadn’t thought of the alternatives, and there was a case for doing so because it was filling for a permanent role. Since then I have done more project-based roles through a limited company and would not go back.


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